Here I am at the Covenant Woods Retirement Community in Columbus, Georgia, where life is good so long as you don't mind lying in bed and listening to the neighbor listen to some guy rant until eleven o'clock or midnight or the until the wee hours of the morning. Now, to be fair, this doesn't happen every night, just three or four nights a week.
The problem began after Leila moved out of Covenant Woods, and my current neighbor moved into the apartment next door. A week or two after she moved in, I asked my new neighbor if she could turn down the TV, or whatever it was she had on nearly every night. "That's my son," she said. "You'll have to talk to him." "Not my job," I told her.
I did, however, call the Covenant Woods' number on those nights when the neighbor's son felt his right to play the TV or CD or other device trumped my right to a reasonably quiet trip to Dreamland. The Covenant Woods' security person would either get on the intercom or go to the neighbor's door and ask them to turn it down. I know the Covenant Woods' security people did this because I could hear the conversations. For instance, one night the Covenant Woods' security called the neighbor on the intercom, asked her to turn it down, and the neighbor said to her son, "He said, turn it down." I have no desire to eavesdrop, but my list of medical problems does not include any mention of a hearing deficiency. Sometimes I wish it did.
All my whining eventually got a reaction from the Covenant Woods' management. Roger, the general manager, told me he sent a letter to my neighbor informing her that her son was not allowed in the building after 6 pm. The son, who had been driving a banged-up Kia, began using his mother's car. Again, I don't snoop around in other people's business, but my neighbor's assigned handicapped parking spot is right outside my window. So, each morning, sonny boy would guide his mother's car into the assigned space, and by early evening, the car was gone. My nights were much more pleasant, and falling asleep was so easy.
However, two weeks later on a Friday night, I looked out the window rather than watch political ads during a Jeopardy commercial break. There, right in front of the window, was my neighbor's car. That night, I was given the pleasure of listening to whatever the neighbor's kid was listening to, the same old crap. He was back that Saturday night. I called and complained. The person working security either ignored my call or came down, walked by the neighbor's door, couldn't hear anything, and went on by. Alas, I don't sleep in the hall.
The son was back again the following night, along with the noise from whatever it is he listens to. Hoping to get some sleep, I raised my voice and yelled, "Please turn that down." That didn't work, even after several attempts. I kept trying, he kept ignoring me, even when I shouted, very politely, mind you, "Turn that goddamned thing off, you inconsiderate idiot." Finally, about one in the morning, he left in his mother's car. I know he left because when he put the headlights on, they lit up my room for a few seconds. Sunday was a little better. My yelling that evening must have done some good. About eleven o'clock, as he was getting ready to leave, I heard the son tell his mother, "I don't give a fuck about him." Then the neighbor's sliding door slid open and slid shut and the headlights lit my room.
Early the next evening - Monday - I could hear the usual stuff from the next room. It was only 6:45, but I thought a little spying was in order. I headed up front, glanced in the activity room and saw my neighbor in there playing bingo. I kept going and went to the lobby, where Theresa was working at the desk. I asked if the Covenant Woods' management had relented and allowed the neighbor's son to be in the building at night. "No," she said. I told her he had been here over the weekend. She checked the security tapes, which, of course, showed sonny boy leaving at the times I said he had left.
The upshot of all that was a week or two of peacefully falling asleep. I was even told by Covenant Woods' management that they had a restraining order to keep the neighbor's son out of the building at all times.
It didn't keep him out for long. The current routine is, he comes back, I complain, Roger or someone speaks with his mother, he's gone for a few days, he comes back, I complain, Roger or someone speaks with his mother, he's gone for a day or two, he comes back . . . ad infinitum.
Sunday night, the son was next door doing what he always does. I called the desk at 10:16, according to the phone's log of dialed calls, and asked Warren, the security person that night, to have the neighbor turn it down. Five minutes later, there was knock on the neighbor's door, the TV or whatever immediately went silent, someone opened the door and Warren asked them to keep it down. Two minutes later, the audio portion of the evening resumed.
I turned to the only weapon at my disposal: vocal chords. It took ten minutes, but I finally was able to shout the son into submission. At 10:40, according to my phone's log, Warren called back to say he'd received five calls from people who heard me yelling. "He turned the damn thing back on as soon as you left," I said. "I was down there a minute ago, and it was quiet." Yes, it was, but it wasn't five minutes earlier. "I'm going to have to write this up," he said.
I don't know if he did write it up. No one from Covenant Woods' management spoke to me about it. Perhaps Roger spoke to my neighbor - all was quiet Monday night. Not so last night, Tuesday, however. Perhaps the son is watching me. At least it seemed that way. Almost as soon as I sat down on the bed to take off my shoes, the recorded voice I am unfortunately so familiar with made its way through the wall.
Rather than calling the desk, asking the security person to ask the neighbor to turn it down, and be frustrated when nothing happened, I raised my voice and told the neighbor - more likely her son - to turn it down. He doesn't listen well, and I did my best to keep my voice under control so as not to disturb others. It took fifteen minutes, but the son finally turned the darn thing down and went to the other side of his mother's apartment to listen to it.
It is a strange feeling, trying my best not to disturb others while I'm trying to get a person who is not supposed to be in the building to stop disturbing me. But that's life at Covenant Woods, where life is good, so they say,
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